Former Melton First World War military hospital is honoured with special plaque

Leicestershire County Council member, Councillor Pam Posnett, and Melton historian Derek Simmonds, with relatives of WW1 soldiers, Alan Dobson (left) and Peter Marsh, at the unveiling of the  Wicklow Lodge green plaque EMN-170908-154736001
Leicestershire County Council member, Councillor Pam Posnett, and Melton historian Derek Simmonds, with relatives of WW1 soldiers, Alan Dobson (left) and Peter Marsh, at the unveiling of the Wicklow Lodge green plaque EMN-170908-154736001

A former military hospital in Melton where sick and wounded troops were treated during the First World War received a special honour yesterday (Wednesday).

A prestigious green plaque was unveiled at Wicklow Lodge, which is now used as a block of flats.

Wicklow Lodge in Melton EMN-170908-154700001

Wicklow Lodge in Melton EMN-170908-154700001

The scheme is run by Leicestershire County Council to recognise people and places responsible for a significant contribution to the community.

They are voted on by the public and Wicklow Lodge was chosen from a shortlist of 12.

The Burton Road building was a former hunting lodge which was transformed into a hospital in August 1914.

Between January 1915 and April 1919, a total of 1,484 military personnel were treated.

Wounded troops are collected at Melton train station before being taken to the military hospital at Wicklow Lodge in Melton EMN-170908-155203001

Wounded troops are collected at Melton train station before being taken to the military hospital at Wicklow Lodge in Melton EMN-170908-155203001

The plaque unveiling was attended by the great niece and nephew of Arthur Birch, who received treatment there, along with Peter Marsh, whose grandfather took the Melton Territorials to France.

Melton historian Derek Simmonds nominated the building for the plaque.

He said: “I was in the county records office and was shown a list of military hospitals in Leicestershire during the First World War.

“I was astonished to find out that Wicklow Lodge treated 1,484 sick and wounded soldiers.

“As a Meltonian, I never knew this, and I pass this building every day.”

Derek set about researching the history of the building and published a book about it called ‘A Moment in Time’.

Earlier this year we reported on the existence of a rare notebook in which a young boy called Fred Radford took signatures from service personnel being treated at the lodge during the Great War.

He used to run errands for the patients there.

The book is now a prized possession of Fred’s son, Peter, who is 91 and lives in Hose.

The last operation was carried out at Wicklow Lodge on a Jack Brownlow in February 1919. He was a soldier who was home on leave and who had appendicitis.

Councillor Pam Posnett, County Hall’s cabinet member for green plaques, said: “The hospital relied on businesses and people in the town for weekly donations and support.

“It is fantastic to see that 100 years on, there is still huge support from the people of Leicestershire.”

Another Melton building associated with the First World War is in line to receive a green plaque.

The Drill Hall, on Asfordby Road, is one of 12 nominees shortlisted.

Six recipients will be announced on August 14

It was an army HQ for troops heading out to fight 
in France and is now used by 1279 Squadron (Melton)Air Cadets.